We’re heading down the home stretch of the spring season as most of Penn’s teams are halfway through their Ivy League campaigns. Which Penn student-athlete is the MVP so far?
Tommy Rothman, Sports Editor: Alexis Sargent is the MVP of Penn Athletics midway through this spring season thanks to her work on the mound for Penn softball. After Alexis Borden graduated last year, it seemed safe to assume that the Penn pitching staff would take a huge step back. But Sargent has filled the role of staff ace without missing a beat. The junior boasts an Ivy League-best 2.03 ERA and also leads the Ancient Eight in innings pitched, strikeouts, complete games, K/9, BB/9 and K/BB rate. Sargent has been, without question, the best pitcher in the league, and she’s no slouch at the plate either, with a .308 batting average to her name.
Sargent, however, hasn’t been at the top of her game against Ivy League foes. In league play, the right-hander has an ERA of 4.64 and an 0-4 record. If she can turn it around and dominate against Ancient Eight competition, Penn could go on a huge run in the second half and move up the Ivy League standings.
Sargent’s biggest competition for MVP might be from one of her own teammates: junior outfielder Leah Allen leads the league in runs batted in and ranks third in home runs.
Cole Jacobson, Associate Sports Editor: It’s the easy pick, sure. But considering Sam Mattis’ status as the top discus thrower in the world for any age group in 2016, it’s also the right one.
Entering the season as the defending national champion in the event, Mattis was already expected to dominate in his senior campaign.
But no one — not even the two-time U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association All-American selection himself – could have seen what was coming in the opening meet of the team’s season. At the Philadelphia College Classic held at Penn on March 19th, Mattis’ first attempt went for a lifetime best 67.45 meters, topping his mark from last year’s national championship by more than 16 feet en route to comfortably securing the world’s top mark.
Proving that his breakout performance — which was the best discus throw by an American athlete in NCAA history – was no fluke, Mattis went on to secure two more throws of 67.21 and 66.51 meters later in the same day, both of which rank higher than current world second-place artinez of Spain. Although Mattis hasn’t set any records in the time since, he did secure a throw of 65.12 meters at last weekend’s meet at Virginia, still a full three meters ahead of any other collegiate thrower this year.
Needless to say, with the U.S. Olympic Trials coming up this July, Mattis has greater goals than merely helping Penn have a strong season. But as the undisputed number one collegiate athlete in the nation in his event, there’s no doubt that he’s worthy of midseason MVP status.
Thomas Munson, Associate Sports Editor: Sam Mattis may be the best athlete on any Penn team this year, but Nina Corcoran has been the most valuable. While one of those distinctions often comes along with the other, in this case it is important to note the difference. Mattis may be one of the best discus throwers in the world, but Corcoran has led the women’s lacrosse team on a spectacular run of success.
Currently, the senior form Point Lockout, N.Y., is leading the Ivy League with 53 points and 35 assists this season. Those 35 assists are also the third-highest total in the nation, but her 3.18 assists per game is the best mark in the country.
She is dangerously close to surpassing her own Penn record of 40 assists in a single season. Surpassing that mark would also make her the Quakers’ all-time leader in the category, a feat she is on pace to achieve.
To say Corcoran is a key part of the offense is an understatement. She has assisted on 29% of Penn’s goals, which is also the highest rate in the nation. Keep in mind, she isn’t picking up an assist on any of her 18 goals. Add together her assists and goals and Corcoran has played a role in 44% of Penn’s 121 goals.
Currently the Red and Blue are 15th in the nation. But a loss to an unintimidating Dartmouth has them sitting alone in 4th place in the Ivy League standings. Corcoran will have to continue playing at her current ridiculously-high level in order to keep Penn in the conference title hunt.
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